Wedding Traditions of the Middle East; Israel to Lebanon
Wedding traditions within the Middle East can vary just as much as their religions and other beliefs. Despite their differences, the one thing they all have in common is the love of their young and the celebrations of marriage. For the countries of Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon, these joyous events are rich in tradition.
Wedding traditions of Israel include:
– Usually starting around dawn, the groom and bride-to-be will fast and will continue to do so until the wedding ceremony concludes.
– To observe a biblical custom, at the beginning of the ceremony you may see the bride circling the groom seven times. The seven circles represent the searching for one another complete.
– Quite often, an Israeli wedding may take place under a wedding canopy known as a Huppah. The outside event is believed that the couple will be blessed with many children, just as many as the stars up in the heavens.
– As the ceremony is coming to an end, the groom will take the empty wine glass, wrap it up, and then stomp on it. This represents Israel’s Holy Temple and its destruction.
– At the very end of the ceremony, the guests will yell out “Mazel Tov!” or “Good Luck!” At which point the traditional dance to celebrate, the Hora, is performed.
Wedding traditions of Jordan include:
– Majority of the marriages are still arranged by the bride-to-be’s father.
– Quite often the marrying couples are cousins. In addition, the new couple may not know each other very well until after the engagement is announced.
– It is imperative that the brides-to-be are virgins upon their wedding night.
– After the marriage is complete, it is the husband that will dictate every aspect of his new bride’s life. That includes day-to-day life as well as any other travel. To travel, he must give written approval.
– Polygamy for the husband is legal and can have as many as four wives.
– In Jordan, divorce is legal. However in the event there are children, they will go into his custody. With this being the case, women in Jordan tend to stay in marriages, good or bad, instead of opting for divorce. Even if he weds others.
– Women that are divorced are seen as outcasts.
Wedding traditions of Kuwait include:
– Staying within the Kuwait tradition, marriages are arranged and the family is responsible for finding the partner.
– Within the clans, intermarriage is common. However, it is not between the social classes.
– Women in Kuwait need the permission of their father to marry, despite their age.
– A man in Kuwait is allowed to marry a non-Muslim, but a woman can never marry a non-Muslim man.
– A man can marry up to four women, while a woman is only allowed to have one husband.
– Throughout the engagement period, the engaged woman is not allowed to meet anyone or even leave her house.
– On the night of the wedding ceremony, the groom, surrounded by his father, uncles, neighbors and other relatives, walk from his home to his bride’s, where they are received by the songstresses.
– After the ceremony, the new couple will spend the first week at her family’s home. When the week is over, they will then move on to his family’s home for much rejoicing and celebration. It is considered a bad omen if the bride’s mother joins them at the groom’s home.
Wedding traditions of Lebanon include:
– Usually a wedding engagement takes place in the home of the future bride, in which the groom will bring many presents.
– A wedding in Lebanon may take up to three days long.
– In the event a bride should step on the foot of a single girl, the single girl is brought good luck and will marry soon.
– After the wedding celebration is over, the bride’s family will be invited to a big feast by the groom’s family. This can be either lunch or dinner. Afterwards, the bride’s families will the return the favor to the groom’s side.
– Served at the reception will be the Ghoraibi. This is a white butter cookie that crumbles. The cookie is white which will represent the bride’s purity.
– Many of the old traditions in Lebanon still exist today, but you will see more and more of the modern day “western” style infused into the wedding and reception, especially in your larger cities such as Beirut.